Bankruptcy Can Put an End to the Stress of Medical Debt

A comprehensive survey found that health care costs represent the primary reason that people file for bankruptcy protection, and the issue applies to all age groups.

If you feel overwhelmed by medical bills, you are not alone. Bankruptcy may be the solution.

About the Survey

NerdWallet Health conducted the health care-bankruptcy survey in 2013, using data from the Commonwealth Fund, the federal court system, the U.S. Census and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings indicated that about 20 percent of the population, or 56 million adults aged 19 to 64, suffered adverse impacts from health care bills. The survey data projected that about 1.7 million people would file for bankruptcy protection that year.

Problems Despite Having Insurance

You might think that the people trying to cope with paying medical bills were those without insurance. However, the survey found that almost 10 million people who did have health insurance coverage were unable to pay off their medical bills. Part of the problem is the high-deductible insurance plans that patients still struggle with today. An average family making $50,000 a year cannot handle paying high medical bills in the face of an out-of-pocket maximum that might be $5,000 or $10,000.

Age not a Factor

When you think of piles of medical bills, you might assume that they belong mostly to senior citizens; hence, this is the group that you believe leads the nation in bankruptcy filings. However, the survey revealed that in 2013, it was the 35 to 44 age group the survey anticipated to log the most filings, followed by the 45- to 54-year-olds.

Debt Not a Solution to Debt

In order to come to grips with mounting medical bills—and still put food on the table–some people deplete their savings while others take on more credit card debt. Chances are, savings will run dry and credit cards will be maxed out, and there will still be medical bills left to pay. Fortunately, there are options to resolve that debt, and one of the most successful is bankruptcy.

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